What is the Tour Guide Program?

Ashlesha Bhagat, 807 Editor

Hosted by Grant Admissions Center, Union’s Tour Guide Program is a volunteer program that sees value in sharing the student experience at Union to prospective students. Great emphasis is placed on getting prospective and admitted students to tour Union’s campus; the campus visit experience that tour guides offer becomes one of the most important deciding factors on whether a student wants to go to a certain college or not. To this end, the Admissions Office places great care in the training of its tour guides, historically designated as Union’s “gatekeepers.” 

A chance to get inducted into the Tour Guide Program is mainly offered to first-years and sophomores. Being a tour guide is as much a commitment as it is a part of a student’s college experience with the exception if the student takes a term off or goes to study abroad. The Tour Guide program has as many as 85 tour guides and sometimes as few as 55 tour guides according to the data given by Tour Guide Manual. 

Tour Guide Program is a volunteer program but for students to feel rewarded for the effort they put into it, the incentive program was introduced in 2016-17. According to Saahil Cuccria, Assistant Dean of Admissions, under the incentive program, students are awarded certain points and rewards based on the tasks they complete such as giving Daily Tours or Spot Tours or being a part of the Tour Guide Selection Committee. At the end of each term, all the points that a student earns are compiled together, and depending on the total points, students can redeem prizes ranging from water bottles to mugs to sweatshirts. At the end of the academic year, when the Tour Guide Program does their Tour Guide Thank You, they also announce their Tour Guide of the Year who is usually someone who has the most points, and also announce Rising Stars which is a way to give our newly trained Tour Guides a chance to shine.

The main purpose of the tour guide training is for tour guides to understand how the whole campus works. This includes being efficient storytellers and understanding how Union is different from other liberal arts colleges. Students also get access to the Tour Guide Manual which allows students to help create their own tour stories and increase their knowledge about the different departments on campus such as Residence Life, Hospitality, Minerva Program, Office of Intercultural Affairs or Student Activities, and various programs run by them.  The training is generally flexible, allowing students to make up for sessions they might have missed. Students have to generally do at least two mock tours and at least three shadow tours.

Transferable skills to career paths

When students are giving tours, they are learning the art of effective storytelling and public speaking. They also learn how to command and communicate with groups of people they have never met and learn how to be problem solvers when they have certain situations come up in their tours. In a way, they also learn how to sell their experience so as to attract other people. These are all skills that are transferable to many other careers.

As a member of the Tour Guide Selection Committee, which tour guides get a chance to be a part of later if they have dedicated enough time to the program, allows students to conduct interviews, look through applications, etc. which are requirements for jobs such as Managers in various fields who are to hire people. It allows students to learn how to be mentors, and develop skills to create development programs which are required when working in higher education. It also increases presentation skills. 

Other Opportunities to Get Involved in Admissions

There are several ways to get involved with Admissions and some of those are volunteer programs that can boost a student’s resume. One of those is the Ambassador program where ambassadors can sign up to sit in on lunches with prospective and admitted students. Within this program, they can also do panels for in-person and virtual events, and work on an ambassador communication site called Wisr where they create content for prospective students to engage with. Students can also help admissions in one-off opportunities through social media and marketing efforts and help post engaging content. Lastly, a lot of these experiences can lead to the opportunity to apply to the Senior Intern program. This one is the most competitive role within the Admission office and is paid. In this role interns conduct interviews with domestic and international students, host information sessions, help with open houses and panels, and be a point of contact for those who might see themselves coming here. All of these amazing opportunities help students learn lots of soft skills needed in the workforce or post-grad schooling. At the end of the day, working with admissions can open many doors.